By Anand Singh
New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) The young ‘turks, seen as close to a sulking Rahul Gandhi, are giving jitters to Congress at a time when it is grappling with the challenge of rejuvenating the party under the leadership of partys interim President Sonia Gandhi.
While some of the young leaders are making statements in violation of the party line, even praising the Narendra Modi government, some others are quitting the party.
According to Congress sources, the young leaders are eyeing prominent roles in the Congress ever since the old guard staged a dramatic comeback following the resignation of Rahul Gandhi as party chief and Sonia Gandhi taking over.
They are causing discomfort for the leadership over several issues to keep the pressure on.
Among the young ‘turks’ giving jitters to the Congress are former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, Milind Deora and Rajasthan Deputy Chief MInister Sachin Pilot.
A party source said that Scindia, Hooda and Deora enjoyed good bonding with Rahul, but now since the Gandhi scion is not even attending party meeting and keeping aloof, they are unable to express their opinion as the old guard including senior party leader Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot are again enjoying the clout under Sonia Gandhi.
On Monday, Deora created ripples in the party by praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston as a “momentous first for India’s soft power diplomacy”. He even received a thank you tweet from Modi.
According to Congress sources, the senior party leadership is deeply upset with the act of Deora singing praise for Modi after Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma criticised the Prime Minister, saying he had for violated the country’s foreign policy.
The party sources said that Deora may be asked to clear his stand over the issue.
But this is not the first time that Deora has gone against the party line. On August 6, he had praised the Modi government for ending special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370, even when the Congress was going full hog in attacking the government.
“Unfortunate that Article 370 is being converted into liberal versus conservative debate. Parties should put aside ideological fixations and debate what’s best for India’s sovereignty, peace in Jammu and Kashmir, jobs for Kashmiri youth and justice for Kashmiri Pandits,” Deora had tweeted.
Deora had earlier resigned as the Mumbai Congress chief after the party’s debacle in Lok Sabha elections.
Scindia and Pilot, despite working hard for the party, continue to be neglected for the positions they aspire for and vent their frustration through their statements.
Both of them, considered close to Rahul, have been eyeing the posts of Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, respectively.
Causing discomfort for the party, Pilot, on a number of occasions, has criticised Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot openly on issues of delay in forming the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the death of Pehlu Khan and also accused the government of not doing well on the law and order front in the state.
Similarly, Scindia has been making statements, at divergence from the party line, on the issue of abolition of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. He has also been vocal critic of the Kamal Nath government on the issue of farmers.
On Article 370, Scindia had welcomed the decision while his party colleagues fought bitterly with the government on the issue.
Prasada also toed a line different from the party. Instead of attacking the government on the issue of economic slowdown, he suggested that India’s population was holding back the country’s progress, echoing what Modi had said in his Independence Day address.
According to some party leaders, these young turks are finding it difficult to hold their ground in the party as all of them, except Pilot, lost in the Lok Sabha polls.
The party is also troubled by the resignations.
Senior party leader and former Jharkhand Congress chief Ajoy Kumar, who was considered close to Rahul Gandhi, quit the party on September 19 to join the AAP.
On Tuesday, the Congress received a major jolt in the northeast as its Tripura unit chief Pradyot Deb Burman resigned from all posts of the party over differences with the high command.
“I start this day without having to listen to criminals and liars. Not having to worry about which colleague will backstab you, not having to indulge in groupism and backchat. Today I can contribute for my state with a clear mind,” Barman said in a series of tweets sharing his resignation.
He said he was relieved as he would no longer have to “listen to high command on how to accommodate corrupt people in high positions”.
“I tried and perhaps lost but could I win when I was alone in this fight from the beginning?” Barman said.
Against the backdrop of the rout in the Lok Sabha elections, where the Congress could manage to win 52 out of 542 seats and getting wiped from 17 states, several of these young leaders have differed on several issues be it Triple Talaq or abrogation of Article 370 or economic slowdown.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)